60 with 60 Recap: What I’ve Learned from My Photo Challenge

calla lily

I’m happy to report that I have successfully completed my self-imposed 60 with 60 photography challenge.  In this challenge, I aimed to post 60 photos using a 60mm prime lens. My hope was that by imposing limitations on my gear, and by having a numerical goal, I would tap into a new vein of creativity (i.e., get out of a creative rut) and perhaps get to know that particular lens better.

Specifics:  Nikon AF-S 60mm f/2.8 micro lens mounted on a Nikon D7000 body

Time:  September 8-September 25 (18 days total)

Results: The main purpose of the challenge was self-discovery.  However, I did manage to capture some images that I am proud of (as well as some that are admittedly so-so). You can see the whole collection of 60 images by clicking on the image, below:

60 with 60

 

There were pluses and minuses to this challenge.  On the positive side, using one lens made shooting simple.  I could just grab my camera and go, without needing to ponder which lens to bring.

Secondly, using a single prime lens ensured that I needed to have active footwork.  I had to physically walk to and from a subject to get the correct composition, rather than letting a zoom lens do all the heavy lifting.

Thirdly, by taking the lens decision out of the equation, I was free to focus more on lighting and composition.  I was able to be more thoughtful in my approach.

And, finally, I did learn a lot about this particular lens. While it is fairly fast (f/2.8), it is not as fast as the 50mm (f/1.4) and I missed some shots due to low light.  Also, it is a fairly large lens, and the camera/lens combo was not easily tossed into my handbag. For an everyday lens, I would prefer something smaller and lighter (again, noting the 50 mm f/1.4).

There where were additional downsides to this challenge as well:

First of all, I grew weary of this lens!  I thrive on variety, and limiting myself to one lens proved to be far more challenging (and I might even say, annoying) than I could have anticipated.

And the number: Sixty!  S-I-X-T-Y is a LOT of images.  When I first came up with the idea of 60 with 60, I confess that I was more enamored of the catchy name for the challenge and less concerned with the actual number. I’ve never participated in a challenge, self-imposed or otherwise, with such a large number of images, and I learned my lesson from this.

Finally, it was frustrating to be prevented from using the best lens for the job.  For instance, while this lens is touted as a macro lens, and it does a fair enough job at close-ups, it doesn’t hold a candle to the 105mm for sharpness and detail. When taking photos of flowers, I had to resist my perfectionistic streak and use the camera at hand. Knowing I could have achieved a better image with a different lens was a challenge in itself.

Having said that, challenges by their very nature are opportunities for growth.  They force us out of our comfort zone and encourage to try new things and to be innovative and creative.  I am glad I did this challenge because it helped me stay focused on a theme and it made me shoot images nearly every day. I am already looking forward to my next challenge.

I’d love to hear about your photographic self-challenges. Are there any you would like to share?  Or do you have any suggestions for me to try?  I welcome your thoughts and insights.

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